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I met George Foreman III in an organic juice bar inside a boxing gym just across the Fort Point Channel from Boston’s financial district. It didn't take much encouragement to get Foreman to describe his relationship with his father, boxing legend George Foreman Sr.
"My dad’s my best friend," he said. "I’m kind of like a chip off the old block, just a chip."
George, George And George ...
We might as well get this out of the way -- all five of George Foreman's sons have the same name. George III goes by Monk.
"Then there’s Big Wheel, Red, Joe, Little George — I won’t tell you his real nickname because he’ll kill me — and then my two nephews so we have eight Georges now," Foreman explained.
Whether acting in his father’s Doritos commercial or helping him promote his ubiquitous grill, Foreman has been following the man he calls “Big George” all his life. When he got older, Foreman served as his dad’s manager. And when George III decided to step in the ring, father and son switched places.
The most important thing to Foreman, the thing he talks about more than anything else, is creating a community.
"I’m 16-0 now," he said. "He was my boxing trainer and my manager. And then after like three years straight of fighting, I said, 'whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.'"
Foreman's true life goal was to follow his dad and become an entrepreneur. That’s when a friend suggested he open a boxing gym. He loved the idea, with one hesitation.
"I didn't think there was any money in it, that you could actually keep a roof over your head training people to box," he said. "And that began the idea of ... The Club."
The Club’s full name is The Club by George Foreman III. And it’s not just any boxing gym. It’s a luxury boxing gym — complete with steam and sauna rooms, treadmills equipped with Google and Facebook, and more than 120 classes a week.
The Club’s signature class is BOXFIIT, a combination of rowing, yoga, spinning, kettle bells, suspension training, and boxing.
"I heard my business partner once say, 'Cool is two unexpected things'," Foreman said. "We try to put four unexpected things together, so ... I think it’s gone from cool to weird, but it’s working."
Foreman’s motto is “Everybody Fights,” but only six of The Club’s 1,000 members are preparing to enter the ring. In every class, Foreman and his trainers use boxing metaphors to encourage members to keep fighting through everyday life.
But the most important thing to Foreman, the thing he talks about more than anything else, is creating a community. Take a class at The Club, and you’re going to be assigned to a team. Before the class is over, you’ll likely have made a friend.
"All my classes are like that," Foreman said. "And they look at me crazy, but you see the people talk to each other. They’re laughing and joking. They're getting to know each other. They love it. There’s no other place you’re going to get this. In many ways they don’t even get it at church anymore, because in church they kind of just show up and go home, you know?"
Foreman's Inspiration: His Father
[sidebar title="Wayne Gretzky's Son Chooses Diamond Over Ice" align="right"] Not every athlete's son chooses dad's sport. Scott Graf has the story of Trevor Gretzky, currently playing in baseball's minor leagues. [/sidebar]George Foreman Sr. has built three churches in Texas. But on Sunday mornings in Boston, the son of an ordained minister can be found gently teaching the southpaw stance to students, nurses, lawyers and billionaires, some of whom look like they've never before touched a boxing glove.
Near the end of a recent workout, Foreman, who has a business degree from Rice University, had a question. If you were to assign a brand name to how you’d like to be at work, what brand would it be? Energizer? Dr Pepper? Nike’s "Just Do It?"
"And they all ask me, 'George, where do you get this stuff? Do you read a book?'" Foreman said. "And I’m like, no, I just call my dad."
By now, you’re probably tired of George III talking about his dad. And he gets it. Foreman seems to understand the trappings of being the eponymously named second son of the two-time heavyweight champion of the world. But, he said, his father also happens to be his hero, his mentor, and his best friend.
"Most of everything I do is a direct result of his inspiration, so I have to sometimes say ‘my buddy’ or ‘a guy I know’ instead of saying ‘my dad’ every five seconds," he said. "You know, I’m 32 years old. I gotta stop that."
The George Foreman brand has sold more than 100 million grills, so it’s no surprise that George Foreman III would choose to put his name on the wall of The Club. No doubt, it gets people in the door but does anyone actually stay because they want to rub elbows with a George Foreman?
"It definitely intrigued me," Ashley Cakounes said. "It wasn't why I stayed. Definitely not."
Seventy percent of The Club's members are women, and they come for more than just boxing.
"I love the different kinds of workouts they do," Cakounes said. "I love the fact that you can do yoga, you can do spinning, you can do the boxing. But I also love the people here and the trainers. It’s definitely more of, like a community here. You kind of get to know people during the workouts and you make friends at the gym."
But there’s still one person who hadn't yet commented publicly about The Club.
George Foreman Sr. Weighs In
When asked whether he’s more proud of his son the boxer or his son the businessman, George Foreman Sr. rejected the question. He said boxing was always the means by which he became an entrepreneur. It was his jump start for everything.
But asked whether his son is good at his job, George Sr. was unequivocal.
"As a matter of fact, he comes here, I get a chance to get private training because every time he perfects something he comes and try it out on me," Foreman Sr. said with a laugh. "I’m the biggest guinea pig he has. And I follow him on Facebook. I’m doing everything he does. I follow him."
With his father as his number one follower, George Foreman III’s next dream is to take his “Everybody Fights” philosophy and workouts digital, so they can be shared in gyms all across the country.
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This segment aired on December 6, 2014.
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